Blog/Tara Reid: Her Amazing Story, from American Pie to Sharknado and Beyond
Tara Reid: Her Amazing Story, from American Pie to Sharknado and Beyond
13 min read

Tara Reid: Her Amazing Story, from American Pie to Sharknado and Beyond

13 min read
tara-reid-american-pie-big-lebowski
Kyle McManusNov 04, 2021

Looking Back at the Career of Tara Reid Across the Big and Small Screen.

Tara Reid is an American actress with a long and diverse career. She may have played a main role in American Pie, one of the biggest comedy movies of the 1990s (if not of all cinema history), but has featured in a wide range of other projects since. Thrillz looks back at Tara Reid's biggest hits over the years, from her debut to today, as well as a sneak peek into what's to come.

What Were Tara Reid's First Roles?

Several years before American Pie, The Big Lebowski, and the Sharknado series, Tara Reid appeared on a number of well-known TV programs. She featured in an episode of Saved By The Bell: The New Class, a spin-off of the original hit series, in 1994.

Tara Reid on teen sitcom 'Saved by the Bell'. Image credit: TV Line.
Tara Reid on teen sitcom 'Saved by the Bell'. Image credit: TV Line.

Reid also played Ashley in five episodes of the long-running American soap, Days of Our Lives, which has been on the air since 1965. Then, in 1996, the actress featured in one episode of California Dreams, another teen comedy in the style of Saved By The Bell.

Tara Reid: From TV to Film

Tara Reid appeared in multiple films before she landed American Pie. She debuted in A Return to Salem's Lot in 1987, a follow-up to the 1979 miniseries, Salem's Lot, based on Stephen King's vampire novel of the same name.

In 1998, after moving to Hollywood, Los Angeles, she featured in several bigger projects, including the slasher Urban Legend, the drama Girl, and the black comedy I Woke Up Early the Day I Died. However, one film released that year would become a major part of her Hollywood career and propel her to stardom: The Big Lebowski.

From here, Tara would star in a lot of niche "cult classics", some of which propelled her into the next stage of her career.

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Playing Bunny Lebowski Alongside Legend Jeff Bridges

The Big Lebowski is a cult movie by filmmaking masters Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Hollywood legend Jeff Bridges, known for 80s classics like Tron and Starman, along with John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Tara Reid.

Reid plays the character Bunny Lebowski, the beautiful young wife of Jeffrey "Big" Lebowski. She told Page Six in 2018 that she was surprised to win the role after seeing actresses Charlize Theron and Liv Tyler waiting to audition. But Reid indeed secured the part of Bunny, and it helped make her a star.

Tara Reid's breakout role was "Bunny Lebowski" in the Coen Brothers' film adaptation. Image credit: Universal Pictures.
Tara Reid's breakout role was "Bunny Lebowski" in the Coen Brothers' film adaptation. Image credit: Universal Pictures.

"This is definitely the breakout role that opened up all the areas for me," Tara Reid told Page Six. "Without this, I don't think I would ever have had the success that I got, on such a big level."

One of those "doors" Reid refers to is American Pie, the hit teen-comedy that blessed screens in 1999, one year after The Big Lebowski's release.

Why Is Big Lewboski Still So Popular?

The Coen Brother's hit film "The Big Lewbowski" earned itself a good reputation, despite its initial controversy. It's true that the film flopped at the box office, but it took on a life of its own, with Tara Reid spearheading as Bunny Lewbowski.

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Today, it is one of the most popular cult films. Whilst the storyline itself is advantageous, the characters themselves superseded expectations. The law of the Dude, a vet with anger issues, a Jesus fanatic, and of course, Bunny Lebowski, a ditsy wife who is kidnapped. It compares to other successful films of its kind, like Pulp Fiction and The Nice Guys.

Tara Reid - American Pie Brings Further Success

For Tara Reid, American Pie was another milestone in her Hollywood story. It brought her more mainstream attention, and established her as a talented, versatile performer. She was an integral part of that cast, performing alongside Sean William Scott, Eugene Levy, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Natasha Lyonne, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Jason Biggs.

The cast of American Pie at the film premiere. Image credit: Getty Images.
The cast of American Pie at the film premiere. Image credit: Getty Images.

The story follows a group of seniors (including Vicky, played by Reid) and their romantic struggles during their final weeks at school in East Great Falls, Michigan. It was made on a budget of $11 million but earned more than $235 million at the box office.

In an interview, Reid revealed that one of the most memorable scenes was the notorious pie scene with Biggs (if you haven't seen it before, watch it now). Although it's been over 20 years since the premiere, the cast has remained good friends.

Cruel Intentions - Another Hit Film of 1999

She also appeared in another hit teen movie in 1999: Cruel Intentions. The film starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, whose ruthless performance was a significant departure from her heroic performance as Buffy Summers in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which also featured Reid's co-star Alyson Hannigan). Reid played Marci Greenbaum, who falls for Ryan Phillipe's cruel Sebastian.

Bringing Vicky to Life Again in American Pie 2

Tara Reid starred in American Pie 2 in 2001, in which she reprised the role of Vicky once again. Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Sean William Scott, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and the other major cast members returned too. This time, the boys leave East Great Falls to spend the summer at a beach house. Further racy hijinks ensue.

American Pie's Kevin (left) and Vicky (right) were a favourite duo. Image credit: Alamy.
American Pie's Kevin (left) and Vicky (right) were a favourite duo. Image credit: Alamy.

American Pie 2 was another massive success, and was followed by American Wedding and American Pie: Reunion (known as American Reunion in the States).

American Reunion and the American Pie Legacy

Unfortunately, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Chris Klein, and a few other cast members were absent from American Wedding. However, Reid returned for American Pie: Reunion in 2012, the fourth installment in the main American Pie series.

American Reunion takes place 13 years after the main characters graduate from high school, and sees them return to their hometown of East Gate Falls. Vicky reconnects with Kevin, as well as the other boys and girls from the original movie, for a walk down memory lane.

Tara Reid's co-stars went on to achieve various degrees of success. Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Sean William Scott have all remained busy over the years. Alyson Hannigan later starred in the hit comedy How I Met Your Mother for several seasons.

Will the Actress Appear in a Fifth American Pie Film?

American Reunion received positive reviews, and rumours persist that a fifth installment in the franchise could be on its way. Tara Reid discussed the prospect of a fifth installment with Katie Krause of ET: she said that there "is a script out there," and that it's "one of the best ones".

In the same interview, Reid speculated that it "will happen" but didn't "know when." However, several spin-off movies without Tara Reid, Jason Biggs, or other key stars have been released before and since American Reunion.

Tara is set to make a comeback as Vicky in American Pie 5. Image credit: Leon Bennett/Wireimage.
Tara is set to make a comeback as Vicky in American Pie 5. Image credit: Leon Bennett/Wireimage.

These include American Pie Presents: Band Camp, American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile, and American Pie Presents: Beta House. The first entry, Band Camp, focuses on Matt Stifler (the younger brother of the character Sean William Scott) played throughout the main American Pie films, as he tries to prove himself worthy of the family name.

American Pie continues to be a defining comedy of the 1990s and many similar films followed it, including Road Trip (also starring Sean William Scott).

What Happened With Sean William Scott?

With expectations high for an American Pie reunion, Tara revealed at the pre-Oscar gala that for the film to happen, co-stars Jason Biggs and Sean William Scott would have to be friends again.

This cryptic comment was taken seriously, leaving fans wondering what the beef was between the two. However, Jason quelled these rumours, assuring TMZ that himself and Sean are "cool".

Tara Takes a Bite Out of Sharknado

When Sharknado was released, few people may have believed that it would generate five sequels and a cult following. Its concept was highly original: a hurricane pulls sharks from the sea and drops them in Los Angeles, where they wreak bloody havoc. The film made its debut on the Syfy channel in 2013.

Tara starred as recurring character "April Wexler" in the TV film series, Sharknado. Image credit: SyFy.
Tara starred as recurring character "April Wexler" in the TV film series, Sharknado. Image credit: SyFy.

American Pie fans may have been surprised to see Tara Reid in a sci-fi disaster film, but she was a fantastic addition to the cast. Reid starred as April Wexler, ex-wife of hero Fin (played by Ian Ziering), along with the late John Heard (perhaps best known for Home Alone and Big). Tara Reid told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that she was impressed by the script, calling it "the most ridiculous, silly movie I ever had read in my life."

The film's wild premise and over-the-top action helped it become a hit with viewers. A sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One, hit screens the following year, hot on the heels of the original.

The Sharknado Story Continues

Tara Reid returned in Sharknado 2, joined by Ian Ziering and Independence Day's Vivica A. Fox. A host of unexpected celebrities also made cameos, including Billy Ray Cyrus and Perez Hilton. The movie was another success, and a third Sharknado was put into production.

One of Tara's early film roles was as Sasha Thomas in the 1998 thriller "Urban Legend". Image credit: IMDb.
One of Tara's early film roles was as Sasha Thomas in the 1998 thriller "Urban Legend". Image credit: IMDb.

The third entry in the series, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, was released in 2015. This was followed by Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, and The Last Sharknado: It's About Time. Tara Reid played April Wexler in all of them, and she even joined Ziering to present The Real Sharknado for Discovery in 2021. They explored whether a real "Sharknado" could happen, as part of the channel's Shark Week lineup.

In the same interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the American actress cited the franchise's bizarre larger-than-life style as a major factor behind its immense popularity. In Tara's words: "I think that's why the fans like it so much, because they see that it's outrageous. They see that it takes you out of your everyday life."

What is Tara's Most Iconic Scene?

Tara Reid boasts many talents, but one of them was as Melody in Josie and the Pussycats. She had to learn how to play the drums, and one of the most iconic scenes was when the garage band got to perform at the concert. Reid explains that the directors cast over a thousand extras, it felt like a real-life concert, in which the actors transcended into their alter-egos.

Tara's favourite role was as drummer "Melody" in Josie and The Pussycats. Image credit: Universal Pictures.
Tara's favourite role was as drummer "Melody" in Josie and The Pussycats. Image credit: Universal Pictures.

Reid tells InStyle: "I took my sticks and banged them together like 'one, two, one, two, three, four.' I swear, we all looked at each other and couldn't believe it. Rosario would come up and smile at me. I'd smile at Rachael. We were playing. We really thought we were rock stars. We really were Josie and The Pussycats in that moment."

Tara's Favourite Role

In a recent podcast with hosts Lisa and Dave, Tara talks a lot about her favourite roles during her career. It's almost impossible to list every single character Tara has played, they all seem so brilliant! However, Tara revealed that drummer Melody was her most favourite role.

Despite the complicated reception of Josie and the Pussycats, it was a very misunderstood film. But Tara couldn't give a hoot, she says: "That has always been my favourite movie that I’ve ever done... It was great waking up every day, playing a happy girl."

Tara Reid's Personal Life

Tara talks a lot about her battle with mental health, particularly after facing cyberbullies and defecting negative comments about her appearance. The actress has also openly confessed that she's had plastic surgery, to boost her chances in film auditions.

As a woman in the industry, Tara faces double the abuse than her counterparts; she's scrutinised not just for her acting, but also for her appearance. After the American Pie 2 premiere, a photo of Tara went viral, with reports that she looked "too skinny". Whether it's comments about her weight or lifestyle, Reid is always on the battlefield. But this film star has a good head on her shoulders, she told People magazine: "this is who I am – take it or leave it.”

Tara is on a mission to call out bullies, and produced the anti-bullying film "Worthless". Image credit: Tara Reid/Twitter.
Tara is on a mission to call out bullies, and produced the anti-bullying film "Worthless". Image credit: Tara Reid/Twitter.

A few years ago in an interview with Australia TV, many were worried about the star's health and wellbeing. Tara appeared tired and disengaged; she told fans later that she was "fine", but was suffering with serious back spasms.

Since then, the film actress has spoken out about different types of bullying, both in her personal life and in the world – particularly against young girls experiencing a similar backlash. Tara Reid has now made it her personal vendetta to make sure everyone receives the support they deserve, and to promote anti-bullying in the entertainment industry.

Tara Reid Ventures Outside the Entertainment Industry

Tara Reid is not just an actress, she has other interests that you might not expect. Tara has featured in many ads for various brands during her career. Fans may have seen the film star appear in commercials for such major companies as McDonald's and Crayola – when she was just 6 years old! She has also graced the covers of popular magazines like Rolling Stone, Maxim, Playboy, and FHM.

Tara launched a perfume inspired by Sharknado called "Shark by Tara". Image credit: TaraReid.com
Tara launched a perfume inspired by Sharknado called "Shark by Tara". Image credit: TaraReid.com

The film actress also invested in three restaurants in the 2000s, and launched a Los Angeles fast-food venue, Ketchup. She also released a perfume inspired by Sharknado in 2014, named Shark by Tara. In 2009, a clothing line Reid co-designed with Christian Audigier, Mantra, hit stores. Tara managed to link her high profile with an amazing entrepreneurial idea. Who knows where she'll take her career next...

Tara Reid on a New Adventure

Tara is truly an exceptional businesswoman, and is trialling yet another incredible endeavour. She revealed in an interview with Express that she's releasing a vegan handbag with designer, Michael Kuluva. Although this idea is still in production, the handbags will not be made of 'pleather', but fruits and vegetables.

But the ambition doesn't stop there. During the pandemic, Tara refused to hold herself back, even amidst a deadly virus.

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In the same interview, Tara explains: "A lot of fear was going on. But when I was in my house, I said, “You know what? I’m going to be proactive. I’m not going to sit here and just wait for COVID-19 to come over, or for my industry to come back.” So she launched her own production company, Hi Happy Films, and connected with entertainment professionals worldwide.

There is a lot more to Tara than meets the eye, and we could all use a sprinkle of her attitude to get us out of a rut and fill us with motivation. Her spirit and positive energy might not be what you expect, yet it's this spunk that drives her.

What is Tara's Next Film?

Despite claims that the actress has gone underground, Tara Reid is busier than ever. She's taken on several projects in the last year alone, and is continuing to build an impressive portfolio.

Many tabloids are quick to assume that Reid has hit a slump, but this couldn't be further from the truth. According to IMDb, the actress has over 19 upcoming projects (including American Pie 5!) across film and TV. Not to mention that Tara has also been involved in 5 films prior - whilst everyone else was busy baking banana bread over lockdown.

Tara's most recent film to date is her performance as Elizabeth in Attraction to Paris. So if we do say so ourselves, Tara Reid is coming to a screen near you!

Where's the Before and After Photo

Finally, we come to what you're all waiting for. A photo of Tara Reid then and now. Well, luckily for you, Thrillz is happy to oblige.

Tara Reid then and now. Image credit: PA.
Tara Reid then and now. Image credit: PA.

From TV ads to film and production, and now entrepreneur, Tara has an accolade of achievements in the bag. She's still the same quirky and fun character as always, just with much more wisdom under her belt.

While you're here

And today, Tara Reid is available for personalised video messages through Thrillz! If you want a special message from the actress, for yourself or a loved one, book your unique video now!

Kyle McManus
Kyle McManusCopywriter
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